Sporting Kansas City announced Friday the establishment of the Kevin Gray Player of the Year Awards for soccer players in the Kansas City area in honor and memory of the late Kansas City Sports Commission president Kevin Gray.
The Kevin Gray Awards consist of honors for both a male and female Youth Player of the Year given to local high school seniors based on their performance in both high school and club soccer throughout the year. An Adult Player of the Year award will also be given to a current collegiate or professional player with Kansas City roots.
“With Kevin Gray’s passing, Kansas City lost a great champion for its amateur and professional sports programs,” Sporting Kansas City Chief Operating Officer Greg Cotton said. “Kevin was a fierce advocate for the sport of soccer at all levels, and this important award could not have been more appropriately named.”
Caroline Gray of St. Teresa’s Academy, Nick Besler of Blue Valley West High School and Matt Besler of Sporting Kansas City were chosen as the inaugural winners by a selection committee of coaches involved in high-school, club, college and professional soccer in Kansas City.
Gray, the winner of the Female Youth Player of the Year Category, enjoyed standout campaigns for both St. T eresa’s Academy as well as for her club side, KCFC. Gray captained KCFC in their ECNL nationalchampionship, including scoring the winning goal in the team’s semifinal shootout victory. Gray will continue her playing career at the University of Nebraska this fall.
In the Male Youth Player of the Year category, Nick Besler of Blue Valley West is honored after setting a school record for goals in a season (27) while leading Blue Valley West to the 6A Kansas state title and being named as an NSCAA All-American. Besler, younger brother of MLS All-Star Matt Besler, will attend the University of Notre Dame this fall.
Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler is honored as the inaugural winner in the Adult Player of the Year category after leading Sporting Kansas City in minutes played through 20 games in the 2011 MLS regular season on his way to being selected for and playing in the 2011 AT&T MLS All-Star Game against Manchester United on July 27th.
“Kansas City is developing high level soccer players and I thoroughly believe there to be a need to recognize the excellent performances of our area players,” said GSI Sports Manager Huw Williams.
“I also believe there to be no better person than Kevin Gray to have the award named after. Kevin was a champion for and a supporter of soccer for over 20 years.”
The inaugural awards ceremony, co-sponsored by Sporting Kansas City and Global Sports International, will be held Wednesday, August 3rd at 6:00 p.m. CT at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park prior to the start of Sporting Kansas City’s match against Real Salt Lake. The awards ceremony will take place in the Interview Room adjacent to the Field Club at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.